by Kevin Zeese and Margaret Flowers
The corporate media is reporting that since the Republican leadership and President Obama support Fast Track trade authority, it is a done deal. And that message, also heard by countries negotiating the Trans-Pacific Partnership (TPP), is driving the race to finalize that agreement.
The truth is: Fast Track is not a done deal. There is bi-partisan opposition in Congress and a large movement of movements organized to stop it.
Across the political spectrum there is mass opposition to fast tracking the secretly negotiated TPP, the Transatlantic Trade and Investment Partnership (TTIP, aka TAFTA) and the Trade in Services Agreement (TISA). People remember the impact of NAFTA on job loss, destruction of Mexican agriculture, expansion of inequality, environmental degradation and increased immigration. The most recent South Korean trade pact, which Obama touts as a success, is leading to similar results of lost jobs and an expanding US trade deficits.
Members of both parties know that Obama will be out of office when the negative impacts of these trade agreements are felt. Congress will be alone facing an angry electorate while Obama is raising money for his post-presidential career from the transnational corporations who get rich off these agreements at the expense of everyone else.
Conservative Opposition Grows In All Segments of Republican Party
On the conservative side of the political spectrum there is more organizing than ever. Breitbart reports a Fast Track bill faces conservative headwinds. The opposition as a "broad spectrum of the Republican Party" and represents "all three legs of the traditional Republican Party stool-- national security, economics and faith-based."
Breitbart quotes Rick Manning of Americans for Limited Government expressing concern about the secrecy surrounding the trade agreements, a concern shared by colleagues across the spectrum, "we don't know what's in it. We do know that this is a huge grant of authority to President Obama."
Dana Milbank writing for the Washington Post (a very pro-free trade publication) notes how for six years Republicans have railed about President Obama usurping power, and the irony of its leadership now wanting to give Obama massively expanded power through fast track. He highlights the Tea Party opposition to fast track and notes "roughly 30 House Republicans are already on record opposing the trade legislation." The conservative activist base predicts that number is growing.
Conservatives have taken to calling the trade deals ObamaTrade and do not want to see the Congress give away its authority under the Constitution's Commerce Clause "to regulate commerce with foreign nations." Manning describes Fast Track as Congress "effectively tying its own hands."
In a press statement quoting multiple conservative leaders, TheTeaParty.net leader Niger Innis builds on Manning's point, describing Fast Track as ceding additional legislative powers to Obama that would be "a monumental failure of Congressional Republicans."
These conservatives highlight Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell admitting Fast Track is "an enormous grant of power, obviously, from a Republican Congress to a Democratic president." Manning described McConnell's path as the opposite of what Congress should be doing, saying the legislation is "an ill-founded grant of trust to a President who has repeatedly shown that he has outright disdain for the legislative branch, rather than providing a speedy up or down vote, the Senate should examine every aspect of any treaty that is presented to ensure that American interests are advanced."
Frank Gaffney, president and founder of the Center for Security Policy, told WND (World News Daily) that "We know the people bringing us this deal have a record of serial malfeasance with respect to negotiations. It would not only be the height of irresponsibility to essentially give the president a blank check, it would be something that makes the Congress complicit in the next bad deal if they give the president fast track authority."
WND reported that at an event on Capitol Hill, Glyn Wright, executive director of the Eagle Forum, presented remarks from conservative icon Phyllis Schlafly. She blasted the Congressional move toward Fast Track as sending the wrong message saying "Fast track just legitimizes what the president has already done once again behind Congress' back."
Religious conservative, Sandy Rios, the director of government affairs for the American Family Association, emphasized opposition to the trade agreements because they undermine the traditional role of the United States in using its economic might to expand freedom around the world saying, "Wisdom dictates that America must use all means at its disposal to resist religious persecution anywhere it is found through the power of our God-given treasure and resources. It is for this reason that American Family Association opposes passage of fast track legislation that negates their ability to change the Trans-Pacific Partnership to end religious oppression in Vietnam, Brunei and Malaysia."
WND reports that the coalition delivered a letter to Congress urging opposition to Fast Track. Further, the coalition promised "a robust effort to educate members of Congress and their constituents about the dangers of giving Obama yet more power." In addition to those at the press conference, they report that others signing the group letter were Jenny Beth Martin, founder of Tea Party Patriots and Judson Philips of Tea Party Nation.
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